Of the sales you lose, are some percentage of them because the prospect didn’t fully understand how your product was going to impact their school?  With a better talk track and line of questioning you can win these opportunities.  But I can tell you if you think that winning talk track is coming from your marketing language, you’re probably looking in the wrong place.

I’ve got a great training exercise for you to prove this.   Pick an ed tech category other than your own, and look at three competitors in that niche.  From their marketing material alone, try to determine which one is the best.  I defy you to answer with any confidence.  You’ve just walked in your prospects’ shoes.

Look, the marketing language isn’t supposed to sell or train or implement a product.  It’s designed to capture a wide audience for lead generation.  It tends to list broad themes and buzz words that help the product come up in a search engine.  It’s so focused on not leaving any buyer out, that it blends the stand out benefits into a backdrop of positivism. That leaves the sales team in a bind.  When trained and armed only with the marketing language, we are not set up to win business.

Reps don’t have the luxury of speaking in these broad and somewhat obtuse terms with prospects.  If they were curious enough after viewing our website to give us some time for a real conversation, they want to find out what is that “one thing” a product does better than any other, the thing that will clearly differentiate it from your competition.  They want to answer that same list of questions you had in your mind when you tried to look at three unfamiliar products.   There’s only one place to learn how to tell your story.

Go talk to your customers.  Customers describe ed tech very differently than founders, marketing teams, and sales VP’s.  That’s because they speak to the biggest positive changes that product has brought about in their district or school.  Don’t be shocked when the way your users describe your product doesn’t sound much like the talk track from your management.  They will talk about downsides.  They will talk about what it doesn’t do.  This is excellent.  Because even with those negatives, they are choosing to buy.  Find out why.  Share their exact language with your prospects.

The other thing only your customers can do is give you anecdotes.  I don’t know if it is a personal learning style of mine or if all people like them, but I am very fond of real life use cases.  Small day in the life of a teacher or administrator stories can be that mind’s eye picture saying a thousand words.  Marketing language will say “increased documentation,” but a client story says how they used the product to communicate with a parent and instantly earned their respect because of how organized they were.   Marketing language will say “improved outcomes,” but a client story says last year I lost three young teachers because behavior was so poor in our school, now teachers have strategies to cope and they will be in this profession for the long haul.

Now that you are armed with these stories, deconstruct each of them with a question or two that will give you the opening to tell the story.  In the first story above you can ask, “What steps do you take to gather student data when conferencing with a parent?”  Or “How might you currently diffuse a confrontational parent?”  From the second story, “Do you have any teachers that struggle with behavior in their classrooms? How does this affect their morale?”  You get the picture.  Once you open a line of questioning, you have that client story in your pocket.

Remember, marketing language is designed to open the door, but to make a sale, you need customer language.

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